Jump to content
  • Sign Up
  • Join Our Community!

    Do you have questions about celiac disease or the gluten-free diet?

  • Kathleen La Point
    Kathleen La Point

    Processed Foods Containing Wheat Starch May be Safe for Many People with Celiac Disease


    Celiac.com 09/08/2008 - Processed foods often contain ingredients derived from starch, such as dextrose (glucose) and maltodextrins. In the United States, these starch products are typically made from corn and are safe for people with celiac disease. However, more than 50% of the processed foods from Europe contain ingredients that are made from wheat starch and therefore contain trace amounts of gluten. This can pose a problem when eating imported foods or when traveling because the amount of gluten required to trigger symptoms in people with celiac disease is still under investigation and not yet completely understood.  For this reason, researchers in Finland have tested the safety of eating processed foods containing these wheat starch products.

    Researchers recruited 90 adults who had been eating a strict gluten-free diet for at least a year, and randomly assigned them to one of three groups. Depending on the group assignment, participants daily consumed drinks containing wheat-based glucose syrup, wheat-based maltodextrins, or a placebo with no wheat starch. The amount of glucose syrup or maltodextrins given to the participants in the first two groups was comparable to the amount of gluten a person might consume while eating an average amount of processed foods.

     Effects of the wheat starch products were tested in several ways. To determine whether the trace amounts of gluten were sufficient to trigger an immune reaction, researchers examined biopsies of the small intestine for signs of inflammation and damage, and tested the blood for specific antibodies that are elevated after gluten consumption.  Small intestine biopsies taken after 24 weeks of wheat starch product consumption did not show increased damage or inflammation compared to biopsies taken before the study began, or compared to biopsies of subjects consuming the placebo.  Similarly, levels of antibodies were not increased by daily consumption of this very small quantity of gluten.

    Because eating gluten reduces nutrient absorption in people with celiac disease, blood levels of iron, folic acid, and calcium were tested in all three groups before and after the 24 week study.  Concentrations of these nutrients did not decrease in any of the groups during the study, indicating that nutrient absorption was not affected by this amount of wheat starch consumption. Additionally, gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea, indigestion, constipation, abdominal pain, and gastro-esophageal reflux, did not increase significantly in any group and none of the patients who suffered from dermatitis herpetiformis developed a rash during the study.

    Results of this study suggest that the trace amounts of gluten in processed foods containing wheat starch products were not harmful for most people with celiac disease. Although additional studies will help clarify the issue, it may be unnecessary for people to avoid these products, making it easier to adhere to a “gluten-free” diet.

    Kaukinen K, Salmi T, Huhtala H, et al. Clinical trial: gluten microchallenge with wheat-based starch hydrolysates in celiac disease patients:  a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study study to evaluate safety. Alimentary Pharmacolgy 

    Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2008 Aug 17.
    Departments of Gastroenterology and Alimentary Tract Surgery, University of Tampere and Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland.


    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments



    Greetings from Finland! I'm checking out how coeliac disease is handled elsewhere in the world, and what kind of articles are published via organizations. I started the diet in my early 20s after blood tests and biopsies - and it improved the quality of life. Some of the gluten-free products here contain wheat starch, but my test results have remained good. Glucose syrup and maltodextrins are considered completely safe - I've understood that the traces are microscopic. At the moment, gluten free food is reasonably available at grocery stores, restaurants, cafeterias and schools, as the coeliac disease is quite common and tested.

     

    European standards aren't always total BS, though sometimes they are...I do acknowledge that some might need stricter diet and science is never certain...

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I just think that many of us need to listen to our bodies and that labeling in the United States needs to be better. Maltodextrin in this country tends NOT to be wheat starch, which is good, and we need a better understanding of of celiac. However, this at least is a start. They need to test the neurological and endocrological effects. It's a start though.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    This is a helpful article, but it is not specific enough concerning which products can be safely used. Wheat starch itself does not meet the <20 ppm threshold needed for healthy use for celiacs. Wheat starch hydrolysates (derivatives of wheat starch), such as maltodextrin, however, are low enough in gluten levels to be safe. This article needs to point that out. Go to Gluten Free Dietician and look up articles in the newsletter section for examples.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    Greetings from Finland! I'm checking out how coeliac disease is handled elsewhere in the world, and what kind of articles are published via organizations. I started the diet in my early 20s after blood tests and biopsies - and it improved the quality of life. Some of the gluten-free products here contain wheat starch, but my test results have remained good. Glucose syrup and maltodextrins are considered completely safe - I've understood that the traces are microscopic. At the moment, gluten free food is reasonably available at grocery stores, restaurants, cafeterias and schools, as the coeliac disease is quite common and tested.

     

    European standards aren't always total BS, though sometimes they are...I do acknowledge that some might need stricter diet and science is never certain...

    Hello, Stina. I'm in the U.S. Gluten-free foods can be found in most of our grocery stores now. But going out to eat, cafeterias and schools are nearly impossible to navigate here for patients with coeliac disease. Most processed foods are right out, though if you are willing to read labels you may find other foods that are indeed gluten-free (but only god knows if it's been contaminated in the plant it was canned in). It's been a rough journey for me this summer, from depression after my diagnosis, to glee finding out as a baker I still had options to bake in my kitchen. I still end up with bad days after accidental contamination. But overall, I am beginning to enjoy eating again! Many homeschooled students opt out of public schools due to extreme allergies to nuts, glutens and inhalant caused asthma. It is that difficult to "survive" the most available options for is here.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites



    Join the conversation

    You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
    Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

    Guest
    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • About Me

    Kathleen LaPoint is a biomedical writer with a B.S. in Molecular Biology and an M.S. in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

×
×
  • Create New...